Monday, 21 April 2014


So, my first blog.  I had to start somewhere.  An Easter Bank Holiday Monday is as good a time as any.  Although I have been writing blog-like posts on Facebook for some time, I'm a bit nervous about this.  Silly really, but there you have it.  It's a bit like getting a brand new notebook.  You don't know where to start.  And you wonder if you have anything worth saying.

I do think that it is important to write things down though, to archive and document.  Writing on a laptop allows the freedom to cut and paste, in a way that notebooks don't.  This suits my 'all over the shop' writing style (reflecting my chaotic brain).  I got the loveliest of surprises last year, when my cousin returned a bag of letters that I had written to my aunt Aine who died recently.  Aine lived alone and I was close to her.  She had kept my letters and postcards written by teenage me (as well as cards and letters from other people).  I cried my eyes out when I got the letters, touched that she had kept them, even if they hadn't been read in years.  I laughed out loud when I read through the letters.  Too many starting with 'sorry I couldn't visit you last Sunday with Mam.  I was meeting a fella'.  I had written things that I have no memory of now.  Aine must have been entertained by my teenage dross.  I was so glad that I took that time to write them.  In some way, those letters led me to this blog.  That and encouraging comments from friends.

I've called my blog Poppy Cottage Diaries, after the shebeen where we live.  Our postal address was originally '540 Russellstown'.  It was a bit misleading and suggested that we lived in a huge housing estate.  On our first Christmas here, I got a number of calls from people checking our address, afraid that our Christmas card would get lost in a sea of over 500 houses.   Having an address the same as your surname (Russell/Russellstown) confuses people too.  (Of course if I hadn't kept my maiden name, it wouldn't be an issue - that's a blog for another day !).  We decided to call our house Poppy Cottage.  Right now, Dandelion, Daisy or Buttercup Cottage might be more fitting.  I'm working on upping the poppy V weeds ratio in the garden.  It's an ongoing process.  Most of what I have written so far involves my children or nostalgia, so I'll stick with my formula for now.

We had an Easter Hunt in our garden yesterday, Easter Sunday.  We invited a 'hape' of children.  Making a list on Saturday, I could feel a mild sense of panic when I realised that almost 50 children were coming.  As Poppy 'Cottage' suggests, our house is small and dinky.  We have done lots of entertaining over the years, but I draw a line at having 50 excited chocolate filled children, with their grown ups indoors.  Our plan was 100% reliant on good weather, so that all of the entertaining could take place outdoors.  Our eyes were glued to the weather forecast for Easter Sunday.

Despite it being an outdoor party, I felt the need to clean the house from top to bottom before the Hunt. I knew that it was unlikely that any of the little visitors would care if I had cleaned under my bed, but it had to be done.  In the Irish tradition of having clean undies in case you get run over by a bus, a gal must be prepared.  Especially one who wants to give the illusion of being a Domestic Goddess.  And there was always a chance that a stray child could ramble indoors and look though my sock drawer (or worse), only to be sought out by a grown up.

Meanwhile, hubby blitzed the garden with mowers, strimmers, spades.  The place was looking great.  But the battle with dandelions will never be won.  At times, I think that we could sort it all out with a blast of weed killer.  But seeing a garden full of ladybirds puts a stop to those thoughts.

I was awake from 5.30am on Easter Sunday as my 6 year old boy came into our bed, too excited to sleep.  It was cold and frosty when I brought the mutt for a 7am walk - my 'me' time before the madness.  I was thinking of dew laden grass and all of the children running into the toilet, with wet freshly cut grass stuck to their shoes.  I was wondering if all the floor cleaning the previous day had been necessary.

The thing about an Easter Hunt is that you have to leave a lot of the prep until the last minute.  The dog, rooster, slugs, fellas-with-long-tails-that-we-don't-like-to-think-about-in-the-country, could be having a nibble at the chocolate and goodies, so they are put in place shortly before the visitors arrived.  We had a Hallowee'n Hunt for the children's birthday a few years ago.  Bertie, our pot-bellied pig was locked in the shed, but escaped just as people landed.  I found him eating his way through 20 of those sweetie necklaces - the ones on the elastic - including the plastic wrappers.  Not even the plastic was left.  Bertie  left us soon afterwards, when he got all hormonal, having sniffed out a sow up the road.  There was no stoping that pig.

I digress.

My boy seemed determined to undo all of my good cleaning work in the kitchen an hour before visitors arrived.  He took a notion to empty the crumb tray under the toaster.  Needless to say, there was crumbs everywhere.  Then he went looking for something to gather sweeties in.  Of all the bags in the house, he found a cloth bag that someone had given me with potatoes from their garden.    He dumped the potatoes, complete with clay all over the kitchen counter.

Then they came.  Not quite 50 children, but 44 anyway.  And their grown ups.  By 11am the grass was dry and the sun was warm.  Hubby set up a marquee and had sausages, rashers and eggs cooking al fresco on the BBQ.  The Burco was on and the scones were heated.  It was hard to contain excited little people, to wait for late comers, so we kicked off quickly.  I gathered the children around me to brief them on the 'rules'.  It was only then that I realised what a crowd there was.  Again, panic.  That there was enough goodies for them all.  Too late now.

Off they went, scattering around the garden, looking under trees, on pathways, in trees, in oddly placed containers.  You might expect lots of noise, but the children were concentrating on what they were doing, so there was a lovely sense of calm.  Half of the red heart shaped balloons that I had staked to the ground had burst, but no one seemed to notice except me.  Enough for everyone.  We even managed an impromptu hunt for late comers.

Easter baskets filled, they sat on the lawn to compare their stash with others.  Kicking ball.  Pairing off to have chats with their friends.  On the swing.  Making new friends.  Grown ups enjoying the sun.

Then they left.  To family dinners.  To relax.  To eat chocolate.

Myself and the hubby did the post mortem.  A success we reckoned.  Counted our blessings on the weather.  Already planning for next year.  I asked my boy what was his favourite part of the day.  He said 'everything'.  My little girl said 'I liked best that people liked my doggie'.  So there you have it.  Happy Easter folks.

1 comment:

  1. Love, love, love this! We had a wonderful day. Really looking foward to reading more of your blog and seeing "twinny-isms" scattered throughout!